The Hats of SEO: Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

The never-ending quantity versus quality debate also applies to search engine optimization. So, learning the differences between different SEO techniques will ensure that you are setting your website up for long-lasting results, not just for 5 minutes of fame.

Originating from old Western movies, where the good characters would wear a white hat while the bad ones would flaunt black hats, the terms “white hat” and “black hat SEO” have been coined to mark the distinction between right and wrong search engine optimization practices.

Ready to find out more about the black hat vs white hat “duel”? Then, keep on reading to understand search optimization techniques better!

What Is White Hat SEO?

A follower of the rules set by search engines, white hat SEO has been described as “any practice that improves your search rankings on a search engine results page (SERP) while maintaining the integrity of your website and staying within the search engines’ terms of service”.

So, basically, white hat SEO is all about search engine optimization tactics that adhere to Google’s guidelines and prioritize creating insightful and valuable content instead of ranking high on search engines. Ironically, focusing on white hat SEO is exactly what will help with ranking high on Google, although that shouldn’t be the end goal. 

That being said, here are some characteristics of white hat search engine optimization:

  • Focuses on the audience: Google wants you to not only answer user intent, but to also offer your visitors high-quality and informative content. Needless to say, that is impossible if you are only focused on rankings and creating content for search engines. So, a user-centric approach is crucial for white hat SEO. 
  • Has a long-term approach: It is already clear, but we’ll say it again: white hat SEO is all about quality over quantity. While it may take you longer to achieve certain results, if your content is valuable and follows Google’s guidelines, it can generate results for years. 

What Are White Hat SEO Techniques?

You already know that white hat SEO is all about following Google’s guidelines, but what are some cornerstone white hat SEO techniques? Keep reading to find out!

  1. Conduct keyword research: What better way to understand your target audience’s search intent than by conducting keyword research? Check out our guide on keyword research to learn everything you need to know. 
  1. Focus on mobile-friendliness: According to Google, accessing content easily from any device is a must, as “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high”.
  1. Prioritize user experience: Naturally, you will want to avoid a high bounce rate. User experience plays a huge role in how users interact with a website, so make sure you check out Google’s basics of UX to offer your visitors a top-notch user experience. 
  1. Build quality links: Links from authoritative sources are a great way to be positioned as a trustworthy source. Producing quality content that adheres to Google’s rules will be followed by quality backlinks, as your content will be recognized by other thought leaders in your niche.

What Is Black Hat SEO?

The antagonist in the black hat vs white hat SEO “duel”, this type of search engine optimization technique is also known as unethical SEO. Black hat SEO is all about attempting to rank higher in search engines without following Google’s guidelines. 

That being said, this type of SEO is solely focused on manipulating search engines to rank higher on Google, without being concerned with the visitors’ experience. 

While black hat SEO’s methods may generate results faster, the results can disappear as quickly as they appeared. Google is constantly improving the algorithm so that it offers visitors valuable and high-quality results, therefore websites that use black hat SEO won’t have long-lasting results. 

As the webmaster guidelines highlight, you should constantly ask yourself, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” 

You already know what ethical SEO is all about, so here are some characteristics of black hat search engine optimization:

  • Uses manipulative methods: From keyword stuffing to invisible text or manipulative links, black hat SEO is all about deceiving Google and making it think that a page is trustworthy and valuable.
  • Ignores Google’s guidelines: Black hat SEO goes completely against everything that Google’s guidelines support. So, it’s no surprise that when Google notices the use of such unethical methods, a loss of traffic will occur.

What Are Black Hat SEO Techniques?

You’ll be surprised by how complex some black hat SEO techniques can be. So, keep reading to find out all about these methods!

  1. Keyword stuffing: If you’ve been reading our articles for some time, you already know that keyword stuffing is a big no. This outdated strategy doesn’t work on search engines anymore but is still present when it comes to black hat SEO. Keyword stuffing is all about repeating your primary keywords excessively and without making any sense. 
  1. Hidden text: This type of text is colored the same way as the background so that it is hidden from users. A common black hat SEO technique that is used to stuff keywords or to “add” extra text as search engines prefer longer content
  1. Manipulative links / Link schemes: A common black hat SEO technique, manipulative links are added to content just to rank higher in search engines despite not adding any value to the content. From blog comments or forum spams to hidden links and automated link building, black hat SEOs use lots of techniques to get backlinks. However, as Google has emphasized, quality links can be gained just by creating relevant and unique content that will gain popularity organically and will be appreciated by other businesses in your niche. 
  1. Doorway pages: According to Google, doorway pages are “sites or pages created to rank for specific, similar search queries”. So, these types of pages can lead to similar pages in user search results but, in the end, each of the results takes the users to basically the same destination. They are essentially only a funnel that leads to other pages. 

Do SEO The Right Way and Watch Your Website Flourish!

The black hat vs white hat “duel” should put things into perspective. The golden rule is that if you produce high-quality and valuable content, results will come. Or, as Google highlighted in the quality guidelines: those who spend their time respecting Google’s guidelines “will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit”. 

In the end, search engines are getting more and more sophisticated, and sooner or later, they will identify deceptive practices.

Are you still figuring out SEO techniques and practices? Or trying to take your content to the next level? No matter the case, CadenceSEO may be the solution you have been searching for.

Interested? Book a free consultation with us today!

Kevin McLauchlin

Kevin McLauchlin

Kevin is one of the Co-Founders of CadenceSEO. He has spent the last 5 years living and breathing SEO as well as other Digital Marketing channels. Outside of work he is an Ultra-Runner and father of 6 amazing kids.

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